Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Rachel Ray and Soundgarden

At the gym tonight, trying to treadmill away a few bottles of wine, I clicked on the TV to the food network. I normally don't do this, and normally can't stand the treadmill for more than five minutes, but I was armed with a new set of headphones and wanted to try out the individual treadmill TV with said headphones. I usually try to run to CNN with no sound - no 'phones = no sound - and the 4 minute news cycle is perfect for my limited appreciation of the charms of the treadmill.

But tonight, I switched on the Food Network and there was Rachel Ray (hereafter referred to as RR). RR was making chili mac. She didn't call it that, just kept referring to the combination of pasta in meat sauce with chili. But it was true chili mac, and a nice one. I watched, listening through the new headphones, for a good fifteen minutes. At the commercial break, I popped the plug out and back into my ipod. I picked Soundgarden's "Badmotorfinger". Easily one of the best three albums of all time. I kept running, picking up the paste with 'Rusty Cage".

Then RR came back on. Silent, of course, but digging the food and the camera, moving lushly around the kitchen, smashing a garlic clove with that huge smile, and leaning over to show that huge rack, and I got it. Again. I love RR. And I love Soundgarden. And the modern heavy metal grunge of Badmotorfinger fits perfectly with RR' curves and obvious love of food.

Confused? I was too. Now, four hours and two glasses of wine later, I am working to tease the connection out of my mind. Why? I love Soundgarden. Great sound, great album (BMF) that changed my perception of music forever. Blasting and morose and brutal and beautiful. Described by one reviewer as a "funeral dirge for the millennia" or somesuch. Peak of their creativity and of grunge heavy metal.

I also love RR. She is fun and loves food and loves life and laughs loud and a lot. I'd like to spend a long weekend with her in a t-top Camaro touring northern Arizona with a bottle of vodka in a bag of ice on the floor. Rob a convenience store with squirt guns and hole up in a Holiday Inn. Laugh all day long and grab burgers from the diner and sleep 'till noon. Not creepy or sexy, just blasting through the sun and having a ball and throwing litter out of the car as we finish burger and beer.

How do they go together? I feel it, but struggle to say it. The small town teenboy, cruising McDonald's Friday night cranking Rush and digging the girls with the tight Chic jeans, too young yet to run to fat but definitely headed there, he digs them both. The chef that just wants his music and his food to be bold and powerful, simple and strong on the surface with a complex detail accenting the basic, he digs them both. The man that longs for the simple, solid sounds and tastes, but unable to let go into solid stolidity, he digs them.

Rachel Ray and Soundgarden.

For President.


Thursday, September 11, 2008

Grandma Pie

My grandmother, Ruth Marie Ball Fuller, died recently. She was old, 85, and had lived a long, hard-working life. In the end, she just decided to go to sleep. It had been some time since I'd seen her. In fact, it had been a long time since I was around the family and the hometown at all. I was one of those, "When I graduate I am outta here!" small town kids that really never looked back. In the intervening years, my memories of my relatives faded to gray as I lived outside the verbal history loop that families use to remind themselves of who they are.

Grandma shot crisply back into focus when, at the viewing and at the funeral, the preacher, my dad and uncle and aunt, family friends, cousins, and neighbors laughed and joked about Grandma Fuller's famous sweet tooth. Seems she loved cookies, pie, and fudge. Of course. Who doesn't. And in the aggressively independent DIY life of the Fullers, she made them all herself. Of all of her baking, her pies were the best. Every dinner, it seemed, had a pie or two at the end. Thanksgiving had a table full. Of course, if you didn't eat, there was no pie. And we all ate to eat pie. Even green beans.

My favorite story, one that I hadn't heard in probably thirty years, was of the two pie day. Seems, that after making the pie for dinner one autumn morning, Grandma decided to cut just a sliver to taste it. I guess it was good, because she cut another little sliver. I know it was good, because she ate the whole thing buy lunchtime. Now, the only way we know this story was from testimony of her neighbor. Seems Grandma didn't have enough sugar to make the second and quietly slipped next door to borrow some, hoping to have a second pie ready for dinner before hungry husband and kids returned home. She pulled it off and had the second pie on the table, only to years later be outed by her neighbor. Grandma, I'd have eaten the whole pie too, and tried to sneak a new one out of the oven before I was found out.

I remember the plastic pie rolling sheet that she worked on - opaque plastic imprinted with red circles to measure crust and conversion charts. Worn and floured, every single pie shell was rolled out onto it. And every shell was laid into clear glass pie pans, filled with hand-peeled and cut local (from the yard or down the street) apples, topped with crust, and baked in her old oven. We were admonished to not mess with it until it was cool as we burned our finger to dip in the crust drizzle at the edge.

I ate a lot of those pies. And until her death, never realized how much they were missed. Thank you Grandma Fuller.

(And yes, she was my elementary school Lunch Lady.)

Her obituary below.

Ruth Marie Ball Fuller, DuBois, 85, died Saturday at the DuBois Nursing Home.
Born Dec. 17, 1922, she was the daughter of the late Daniel and Ada M. Potts Ball. She was married to William L. "Let" Fuller. He preceded her in death Feb. 25, 1995.
She worked at Olive Avenue and Highland Street grade school cafeterias for 21 years before retiring in 1985.
She was a member of the Mt. Zion United Methodist Church. She was a life member of the Sandy Hose Company Ladies Auxiliary and the Daughters of the American Revolution, where she had served as a registrar and as a past regent.
She is survived by two sons, William L. Fuller Jr. of New Bethlehem and Ronald J. Fuller of Lemoyne; one daughter, Mrs. James (Susan) McLaughlin of Knoxdale; 12 grandchildren; 20 great-grandchildren; and several nieces and nephews.
She was the last surviving member of her immediate family and was preceded in death by two brothers, Daniel and Arthur Ball; one sister, Dorothy Gearheart; and one grandson, Ronald J. Fuller Jr.

FULLER: Ruth Marie Ball, DuBois, died Aug. 16, 2008. Friends will be received from 2-4 and 7-9 p.m. today at the Mohney-Yargar Funeral Chapel Inc. in DuBois. Daughters of the American Revolution will hold a service at 2:15 p.m. today at the funeral home. A funeral service will be held at 11 a.m. Wednesday at the funeral home with the Rev. Ron Lindahl officiating. Burial will be in Morningside Cemetery, DuBois. Memorial donations may be made to Agape Community Services, 320 W. Long Ave., DuBois PA 15801 or to a charity of the donor's choice. On-line tributes may be made at www.mem.com.

Friday, September 5, 2008

The Omnivore's Hundred

Not my idea originally, but fun. My comments are in italics.

Here is the original link:


The Omnivore’s Hundred

Here’s a chance for a little interactivity for all the bloggers out there. Below is a list of 100 things that I think every good omnivore should have tried at least once in their life. The list includes fine food, strange food, everyday food and even some pretty bad food - but a good omnivore should really try it all. Don’t worry if you haven’t, mind you; neither have I, though I’ll be sure to work on it. Don’t worry if you don’t recognise everything in the hundred, either; Wikipedia has the answers.

Here’s what I want you to do:

1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.
4) Optional extra: Post a comment here at www.verygoodtaste.co.uk linking to your results.

The VGT Omnivore’s Hundred:

1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile (Aligator, yes)
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari
12. Pho
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn, or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters
29. Baklava
30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects
43. Phaal
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Fugu
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores
62. Sweetbreads
63. Kaolin
64. Currywurst
65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail
79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant.
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. Flowers
89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake

Of all of them, I am a little embarrassed to have missed horse, insects, Blue Mountain Coffee, Roadkill and Haggis. I will definitely look for Phaal on any and every Indian menu I see (but I believe that it is probably only really good in India, maybe London).

And I have to try poutine.

Looks like I have some eating to do!